Tag Archives: SkepKon

TheESP – Ep. #175 – The Brilliant Mind of Gwyneth Paltrow

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This week we remember Willem (‘Wim’) Betz, the iconic Belgian physician, researcher and skeptic, co-founder of SKEPP (Belgian Skeptic Organisation) and CSICOP fellow, who sadly passed away on 8 June.
Pontus reports his experiences at the big political event in Stockholm last week (Järvaveckan) and then Jelena talks about the life and times of William Crookes, who was a brilliant scientist, but also a believer in paranormal phenomena.
When Pontus pokes the Pope, we find that Pride month is not for the Vatican, who felt the need to issue a 31-page document to say that trans people ‘annihilate the concept of nature’. We then enjoy the three remaining SkepKon interviews by Annika Merkelbach.
In the news this week, the German minister of health takes a stand against ‘gay conversion therapy’; we urge scientists, researchers and medical practitioners to sign the manifesto against pseudotherapies and a Swedish on-line casino gets its license revoked for taking unfair advantage of their customers. Zotaro teams up with Retraction Watch to alert people about retracted studies, homeopathy seems about to be losing funding in France, and Snopes debunks the claim that Facebook’s Shake-and-Report function leads to people being banned on Facebook. Anti-abortion sentiments are spreading to Europe from the US and the Italian parents who treated their boy with homeopathy get convicted in court.
To rap it all up, we strongly disagree with the ‘Brilliant Minds’ Foundation that apparently believes that Gwyneth Paltrow has one…

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; Interviews from SkepKon; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

We report on the sad passing of Willem ‘Wim’ Betz, the long time Belgian champion of skepticism, activist and fellow of CSICOP and much more. Pontus tell us of Järvavecken, the huge political event in Stockholm which he attended last week with the Swedish Skeptics, along with 53,000 members of the public.

00:06:14 This Week in Skepticism

Sir William Crookes; 17 June 1832 – 4 April 1919. Great british chemist and physicist who attended the Royal College of Chemistry but also was a believer in spiritualism

00:11:48 Pontus Pokes the Pope

First a smaller correction form last week’s report about Cardinal Pell and then a clarification from teh Vatican (as if we ever needed one) about their feeling about trans people and anybody else who don’t fell comfortable with the gender they got assign at birth. Oh, and it’s fine to intervene against children’s rights, even againts the will of their parents.

00:16:08 Final SkepKon interviews, by Annika Merkelbach

We get the remaining SkepKon interviews from our marvelous reporter on the ground, Annika Merkelbach. This week:
Gerald Sorko (Active around @sitpkoeln)
Dr. Stephanie Dreyfürst (@SDreyfrst)
Dr. Nikil Mukerji (@nikilmukerji)

00:29:50 Skeptical News

GERMANY: Minister of Health wants to ban gay conversion therapy

INTERNATIONAL: Spanish manifesto against Pseudotherapies goes international

SWEDEN: License withdrawn for large on-line casino

INTERNATIONAL: RetractionWatch teams up with Zotero and provides retraction alerts

FRANCE: Homeopathy in trouble

INTERNATIONAL: Does Facebook Have ‘Shake-to-Report’ Feature That Lands Users in ‘Facebook Jail’?

NORWAY: Abortion rights under pressure

ITALY: Parents of boy who died because of homeopathy convicted of manslaughter

00:50:48 Really Wrong

‘Brilliant minds’: Barack Obama, Greta Thunberg – and Gwyneth f-cking Paltrow(!)

00:54:21 Quote and Goodbye
“A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth”
/ Albert Einstein 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955, German-born theoretical physicist /

00:57:06 Outro

00:58:21 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #174 – Eating beaver

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This week András sticks his neck out, announcing that he will give a talk at the upcoming CICAP Fest in Padua in September – in Italian!
We then learn about Margherita Hack who was a formidable Italian astronomer, skeptic and co-founder CICAP, we hear more interviews from SkepKon, curtesy of special correspondent Annika Merkelbach and hear how Cardinal Pell is trying to get out of his legal problem while Francis are creating new ones. Meanwhile the Vatican has spent a fortune to stop legal protection of child abuse victims in the US.
Britt Hermes has won her court case (yay!), Sweden has a big public debate regarding the future of religious free-schools and there is a promising Hungarian initiative to get critical thinking into the education system.
Several UK papers foolishly repeat nonsense from social media about a young woman’s death in the Netherlands, we push for the Fight-the-Fake campaign and celebrate that a fellow skeptic has been elected into the Danish parliament (‘Folketinget’).
Finally, the Polish minister of Agriculture promotes eating beaver, which sounds so much better than it is…

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Interviews from SkepKon; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

András is going to give a talk at CICAP Fest in Padua in September – in Italian!

00:05:13 This Week in Skepticism

Born on 12 June 1922: Margherita Hack, Italian astrophysicist and activist who was one of the most important in her field in Italy. She was also a co-founder of CICAP.

00:10:14 SkepKon interviews, by Annika Merkelbach

Two more interviews from SkepKon by our special on-site reporter, Annika Merkelbach. This week Dr. Anna Beniermann (@annabeniermann, mailto:Anna.beniermann@hu-berlin.de)
Dr. Holm Gero Hümmler (@hummler, quantenquark.com)

00:15:34 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Pell’s appeal is going worryingly well, the abuse cases are too many to handle for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Catholic Church has spent a fortune to stop legal protection of child abuse victims. And the Lord’s prayer has aparently been wrong for 2000 years.

00:20:56 Skeptical News

GERMANY: Britt Hermes wins court case initiated by cancer quack

SWEDEN: Big debate regarding religious free schools after the recent scandals

HUNGARY: Educational program to achieve a critical approach to media consumption

THE NETHERLANDS: No, a Dutch teenager did not get assisted euthanasia because of depression after being raped

INTERNATIONAL: Fight the Fake website / compain

DENMARK: Danish General Election: Skeptic Stinus Lindgreen elected MP

00:37:35 Really Wrong

Polish Minister of Agriculture wants to eat beaver (and not in the fun way)

00:43:14 Quote and Goodbye
“The general root of superstition: namely, that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss; and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other.

/ Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, QC, an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist, and author /

00:44:18 Outro

00:45:33 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #173 – The ‘Tender Pope’, Homeopathy and SkepKon interviews

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This week we catch up a bit regarding VoF (the Swedish skeptics) and talk about a new Manifesto against pseudoscientific treatments. We also get a bit nostalgic about a UK referendum about Europe – in 1975.
Then we get two interviews from SkepKon by our special correspondent on the ground, Annika Merkelbach. We check in with Francis who has been in Romania and also apparently is happy to cultivate his future legacy as the ‘tender’ pope.
Sense About Science calls for volunteers for their Evidence Week, Amazon, Facebook and Youtube take a stance against MMS (Miracle Mineral Solution) and other dangerous nonsense, and University of Vienna makes an effort to repair its past endorsement of homeopathy. More news about Natalie Grams and the totally bogus legal threat she is facing and also that her organisation, Homeopathy Information Network, has launched a repository of excellent information in English.
The fake cancer drug Rigvir has now been de-registered by the State Agency of Medicines (ZVA), but some forces are still pushing for continued distribution. In Belgium, a consumer protection organisation speaks up against homeopathy, and then we end by giving a Really Wrong award to Keele University for keeping a an anti-vaxxer and bad researcher on their payroll.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Interviews from SkepKon; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

Some catching up regarding VoF, aka the Swedish Skeptics who will have a tent at Järvaveckan in Stockholm 12-13 June. If you’re in the neighborhood you should come and say hi!
We also welcome the initiative to a new European manifesto against pseudoscientific ‘treatments’ and we urge everyone to sign it.

00:13:39 This Week in Skepticism

6 June 1975: UK embraces Europe in referendum, putting “the uncertainty behind us” regarding the Common Market. Ooh, if only!

00:15:55 SkepKon interviews, by Annika Merkelbach

Two interviews from SkepKon by our special on-site reporter, Annika Merkelbach. This week we here from Dr. Claudia Preis (@PCandlovingit) and Philip Schunke (@pschunke)

00:24:06 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Frankie has been on a PR-tour in Romania. He is also preparing his future legacy as the ‘tender’ Pope (sounds yummy!).

00:28:28 Skeptical News

UK: Evidence Week

INTERNATIONAL Amazon, Facebook and YouTube Take Action against Health Misinformation

AUSTRIA: Medical University of Vienna makes progress in teaching medical students about SCAM

GERMANY: Update on last week’s news about Natalie Grams

GERMANY: INH launched a renewed website

LATVIA: Rigvir is de-registered but the circus is not over yet

BELGIUM: Belgian consumer protection organisation speaks up against homeopathy

00:48:53 Really Wrong

To Keele University for allowing a UK Professor who is linking vaccinations to autism to raise money through their funding portal.

00:53:44 Quote and Goodbye
“Science … warns me to be careful how I adopt a view which jumps with my preconceptions, and to require stronger evidence for such belief than for one to which I was previously hostile. My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonise with my aspirations.”
/Thomas Henry Huxley, British biologist and a prominent defender of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection/

00:55:28 Outro

00:56:43 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #169 – SkepKon Raffle, MSSX, Hitler’s diaries and Papal Heresy

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In this week’s episode we announce the winner of our SkepKon raffle! We also invite you to take GapMinder’s test to see how well you know the state of the world before we catch up with Alice and Laurie from the Merseyside Skeptics who tell us all about their upcoming 10 year celebration: MSSX on 6 July. You should go!
This week 36 years ago, Stern Magazine had to admit that the Hitler diaries they had spent 19 million marks on were fake.
Pope Francis is being accused of heresy by Catholic priests and Pontus is trying to see the papal future.
In the news we report that GWUP’s skeptical Heinz Oberhummer award goes to “No Such Thing as a Fish”, that Sweden has NOT banned mandatory vaccinations and that you can already now start nominating candidates for the Flying Unicorn Awards in Portugal.
We also learn from a study by Glasgow University just how bad it is to take diet and health advice for Twitter (just don’t!).

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interview; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:36 Intro

00:01:00 Greetings

Check how much you know about how the world really is by taking the GapMinder test! Can you beat Pontus and András who were both 11 / 13?
Plus we announce the raffle winner of the ticket to SkepKon 19 in Augsburg 30 May-1 June!

00:09:24 Interview

Alice Howarth and Laurie Philips joins us to tell all about the MSSX celebrations in Liverpool on 6 (and 7) July! You should defenitely go!

00:19:44 This Week in Skepticism

On 6 May 1983, Stern Magazine admitted that they had spent 19 million marks on fake Hitler diaries.

00:28:08 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Francis thinks that gossiping hairdressers is something he should be bothered with, while at the same time a band of priests charge him with heresy! Plus, Pontus sees the future.

00:34:36 Skeptical News

AUSTRIA: “No Such Thing As A Fish” gets Heinz Oberhummer Award 2019

SWEDEN: Old rumors resurface, but Sweden has not banned mandatory vaccination

PORTUGAL: Nominations for the Flying Unicorn Awards 2019 now open

00:46:06 Really Wrong

Social media influencers give bad diet and fitness advice eight times out of nine

00:51:42 Quote and Goodbye
“In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.”
/ David Hume, 7 March 1711 to 25 August 1776. Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist /

00:52:35 Outro

00:53:50 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #164 – Annika @ SkepKon, ESC, HPV, climate change & Jehova’s witnesses in schools

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This week we welcome Annika Merkelbach from Germany back to the show to talk about the upcoming skeptical convention SkepKon, GSoW and her series of interviews on Skeptical Inquirer’s website.
We also talk about the European Skeptics Congress to be held in Ghent the end of August, plus lots of news items and topics to mention include:
The Cancer Act 1939 of the UK, the latest wrongdoings of the Vatican, an Italian politician who’s been opposing mandatory vaccination being hospitalised with chicken pox, the death of HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan and how her campaign must have saved a lot of lives, plagiarism made illegal in Montenegro after a long and interesting battle with the problem, an email by a listener bringing hope in the fight against bogus claims asking for support on Indiegogo, students in Oxford petitioning for climate change to be made a core part of the national curriculum in the UK, Holm Gero Hümmler’s new book on conspiracy theories and Jehova’s witnesses being under attack by authorities in both Sweden and the US for child indoctrination and sexual abuse.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interview; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

Programme out for European Skeptics Congress in Ghent 29 Aug – 1 Sept

00:05:30 Interview with Annika Merkelbach

We catch up with Annika Merkelbach regarding the upcoming SkepKon conference (take part in our raffel to win a ticket!) and her work with Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia and writing for the Skeptical Inquirer.

00:20:20 This Week in Skepticism

The UK Cancer Act of 1939

00:27:24 Pontus Pokes the Pope

The Vatican is still no place for women; Cardinal who covered up abuse not allowed to resign; A US Catholic diocese sued on consumer protection grounds

00:33:18 Skeptical News

ITALY: Politician Who Fought Against Mandatory Chickenpox Vaccine Contracts Chickenpox

IRELAND: HPV vaccine campaigner’s legacy will be to save thousands of live

MONTENEGRO: Plagiarism made illegal in the country along with other forms of misconduct

INTERNATIONAL: E-mail from the listener (re episode 158) Indiegogo does (at least nominally) have policies in place that can be used to appeal questionable projects

UK: Climate change petition: Oxford students campaign for better teaching on subject

GERMANY: Holm Gero Hümmler’s new book on conspiracy myths

01:00:34 Really Wrong

Jehova’s Witnesses child indoctrination in schools (+ plus US child molestation)

01:07:27 Quote and Goodbye
“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.”
/ Anatole France, French poet, journalist, and successful novelist /

01:09:29 Outro

01:10:44 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #163 – Hitler’s Pope, vaccine hesitancy, clinical trial reporting and blasphemy laws

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In this episode: ‘This week we bring you topics and news about SkepKon in Germany and the 38th Anniversary of the premier of Quark, Italy’s most famous science show hosted by Piero Angela.
Plus we talk about abuse in Poland by catholic priests and Pius XII being referred to as Hitler’s pope, how the supplement market is full of bogus claims, the Swedish National Library publishing the cost of accessing scientific studies, how the rise of both vaccine hesitancy and populism might be connected, an update on the state of the measles epidemic in Europe, the UK government promising a national strategy to tackle the lack of clinical trial reporting.
Plus, blasphemy laws accross Europe discussed after Femen protesters’ case hits the news in Spain.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

00:08:26 This Week in Skepticism

Italian science program Quark, hosted by CICAP founder Piero Angela, premiered March 18, 1981.

00:13:53 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Abuse in Poland and Hitler’s Pope

00:20:38 Skeptical News

INTERNATIONAL: Most of the supplement market is bogus

SWEDEN: Swedish National Library publishes the cost of accessing scientific studies

INTERNATIONAL: Populist politics and vaccine hesitancy in Western Europe: an analysis of national-level data

INTERNATIONAL: Measles update:

UK: Government promises national strategy to boost clinical trial reporting

00:42:16 Really Wrong

Blasphemy in Spain: Appeal court overturns acquittal of Femen protesters

00:49:11 Quote and Goodbye
“The search to know has always been characterized by the need to doubt, the need to be critical, including the need to be self-critical.”
/Gerhard Casper, German-born professor, former president of Stanford University/

00:50:12 Outro

00:51:27 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #159 – Fake News by Orban, German court vs Heilpraktiker 1-0 & Brian Bashing the Bishop

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In the abscence of Pontus, Jelena and Andras are joined by Brian Eggo to bring you a new show full of news and interesting topics including two events coming up (SkepKon 2019 in Germany and the 3rd Symposium on Science and Pseudoscience in Elche).
We also talk about the British Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee’s milestone Evidence Check documents that is now part of skeptical history, then we move on to discussing Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban and how EU leaders now simply call his anti-migration and anti-Soros propaganda “Fake News” while he continues to break down the institutions of science in the country. We also chat about Edzard Ernst’s recommendation for a skeptical analysis in general and then bring the good news of a German court ruling against a SCAM practitioner for using false claims in their advertisements.
The Really Wrong price goes to the Catholic Church for being sloppy in their investigations regarding miracles performed by their saints.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; News; Really Wrong; Radio Spot; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

00:11:16 This Week in Skepticism

The British Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee published its damning Evidence Check on homeopathy on Feb. 22, 2010.

00:15:11 Skeptical News

HUNGARY: High-ranking EU politicians call out Viktor Orban on his “Fake News” propaganda.

INTERNATIONAL: What can consumers do when they are confronted with confusing or contradictory evidence? Advise fromEdzard Ernst.

FRANCE: French Judge Refuses to Block Catholic Sex Scandal Movie

GERMANY: German consumer association stops alternative Health Practitioners from treating cancer

00:44:34 Really Wrong

John Henry Newman: Second miracle approved as sainthood looms – and the Catholic Church claims to have them confirmed

00:53:40 Radio spot

00:54:49 Quote
“It is the absence of facts that frightens people: the gap you open, into which they pour their fears, fantasies, desires.”
/Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, English writer/

00:56:13 Outro

00:57:28 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #155 – Bacon, probiotics, the danger of acupuncture and the rise of anti-fluoridation

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This week we’re back to bring you news and info about a wide range of topics including Francis Bacon and his importance in the development of #science, how the ‘good pope’ John Paul II was a misogynist, why we admire the works of Sense about Science so much and how they came up with yet another campaign that deserves much attention (the ‘Evidence Hunter Activity Pack’), how facilitated communication is a thing in Sweden despite all the evidence that suggests it does not work at all, why we should be cautious with consuming #probiotics (thanks to Prof. Edzard Ernst for the heads up), plus Skepkon 2019, the German annual conference for skeptics organised by gwup | die skeptiker is coming up, while a Swedish acupuncturist is on trial for almost killing two patients and the county of Killarney in Ireland calls to remove #fluoride from drinking water, despite the lack of any indications that it could be harmful (while its benefits are many).

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Farewell and Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:00 Intro

00:00:27 Greetings

00:04:33 This Week in Skepticism

Francis Bacon: English philosopher and Statesman, born on 22 January 1561.

00:09:54 Pontus Pokes the Pope

John Paul II once refused to shake Irish President’s hand because she was not a man, and Cardinal Arborelius threatens to leave Swedish Missionary Council because of abortions.

00:16:28 Skeptical News

UK: New educational material developed by Sense About Science: Evidence Hunter Activity Pack

SWEDEN: Facilitated communication

INTERNATIONAL: Probiotics are not risk free

GERMANY: Tickets released for SkepKon 2019

SWEDEN: Acupuncturist on trial for almost killing two customers

00:38:28 Really Wrong: IRELAND: Killarney Council wants to ban water flouridation

00:41:07 Farewell

00:43:04 Quote
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”
/Francis Bacon

00:43:54 Outro

00:45:09 Out-takes

Ep. #137 – Coconut oil, public health, the pope and the photo encyclopedia of bogus claims

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Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; News; Pontus Pokes the Pope; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

This week we talked about Susan Gerbic’s new interview with Massimo Polidoro, a court case over calling someone a Holocaust denier, new teams doing science communication, coconut and the undecided public enemy state, homeopathy and whether it’s unethical for pharmacies to sell it, HPV vaccination for boys, ‘Inoculated’, a new movie in Germany that might be twice as dangerous as Vaxxed, SkepKon 2019, fake Twitter accounts, an Austrian photographer’s encyclopaedia of bogus claims and how religion ruins everything.

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

Show Notes:
00:00:27 Greetings

Susan Gerbic’s interview with Massimo Polidoro: https://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/fifty_books_and_counting

00:13:09 This Week in Skepticism

On 5 September 1996, Irving filed a libel suit concerning Lipstadt’s book in English court. He named in his suit Lipstadt and Penguin Books, whose division Plume had published a British edition of her book.

00:19:05 Skeptical News

SPAIN: A new organisation for the promotion of science is born in Valencia

INTERNATIONAL: Measles update

GERMANY: Freiburg doctor Karin Michels gives a talk abut coconut oil being a poison

FRANCE: French university drops homeopathy degree amid alternative medicines row

SPAIN: University of Alicante offering a course into the public understanding of Science

EUROPE: HPV vaccination for boys

GERMANY: New movie called ‘Inoculated’ is probably worse than ‘Vaxxed’

GERMANY: SkepKon 2019 in the making: Call for papers

GERMANY: Is it unethical for Pharmacies to sell homeopathic products

SWEDEN: Swedish Study Notes Surge in Automated Twitter Accounts

AUSTRIA: “This will change your life forever” – Photographer puts bogus claims and products in display

01:05:27 Pontus Pokes the Pope: Oh, where to begin?

01:11:27 Really Wrong: Publicly funded religious free school scandal

01:16:27 Quote and Farewell

“Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.”
/Adam Smith (1723-90) Scottish moral philosopher/

01:17:34 Outro

01:18:49 Out-takes